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Changed responses under cross-examination: The role of anxiety and individual differences in child witnesses

Bettenay, C., Ridley, A. M., Henry, L. & Crane, L. Changed responses under cross-examination: The role of anxiety and individual differences in child witnesses. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 29(3), pp. 485-491. doi: 10.1002/acp.3125


The present study explored whether levels of anxiety, and a range of individual differences measures (age, IQ, and suggestibility), could predict performance during crossexamination questioning. Eighty-three children (aged 4-11 years) witnessed a staged event before being interviewed (3-6 days later) and cross-examined (ten months later). Results demonstrated that cross-examination induced a significant rise in anxiety levels. Further, recall of unchallenged details (based on children’s initial testimony, which they reviewed prior to cross-examination) and anxiety levels were the only significant predictors of crossexamination performance. Further research is needed to explore the inter-relationship between anxiety and other individual difference measures on cross-examination performance, and to determine how to alleviate the anxiety of child witnesses (to enable them to achieve their best evidence in court). Preparation to ensure children understand the importance of attending to the recording of their original evidence may improve children’s resilience under cross-examination and reduce anxiety levels.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is the accepted version of the following article: Bettenay, C., Ridley, A. M., Henry, L. A., and Crane, L. (2015), Changed Responses Under Cross-examination: The Role of Anxiety and Individual Differences in Child Witnesses. Appl. Cognit. Psychol., 29, 485–491. which is published in final form at
Publisher Keywords: Child witnesses; Cross-examination; Intellectual disabilities; Anxiety; Individual differences
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RJ Pediatrics
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences
Text - Accepted Version
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